Greetings and best wishes to all our friends and family! Our lucky streak continues: it’s been another good year for us in Houston and for family and friends elsewhere. Here’s the main news…
Of all the happenings this year, the biggest and most exciting is Drew’s engagement to Andrea Kurtz, which took place over the summer. Regular readers of this annual letter will remember Andrea as Drew’s partner who has spent much time with us in previous years. She is working on her PhD in chemistry at Stanford – the same program that Drew finished last year. Their wedding is planned in her hometown Las Vegas for September, 2006. We are all very happy about this and thrilled that Andrea is joining our family permanently after winning us over at first sight a few years back. After their wedding, she plans to join Drew – and here comes more news – on the east coast, where Drew has recently taken a job, following a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford, at Schlumberger (one of the world’s leading oilfield and information services companies, whose founders established the wonderful Menil Collection in Houston). For now, Drew is working at their Ridgefield, Connecticut location but this summer will be moving to their Cambridge, Massachusetts location, adjacent to the MIT campus. Whew, that’s a lot of change.
Will’s changes are almost as remarkable! As avid readers will also recall, last year Will completed his Master’s degree at the International Space University in France, and he began work at a NASA consulting firm in Washington, DC. Last spring, when Will was running a space conference in DC, he bumped into Buzz Aldrin (of 1969 moonwalk fame), who ended up inviting him to a party where, around 3:00 a.m., he received a job interview and then a job offer from the President of the X-Prize Foundation, Peter Diamondis. (The X-Prize was the $10 million one awarded last year to the first commercially funded manned vehicle to make it to the edge of space, over 62 miles up, twice in five days, echoing the prize Lindbergh won for flying across the Atlantic.) So now Will is the Director of Space Programs for this foundation. He is still living in DC but may be asked to move to Santa Monica, where the company is based. Will loves his job, which mixes science, politics, the media, and wealthy jetsetters.
Those are the two big developments. Yet there are more. Jim’s father Mihiel celebrated his 90th birthday in July. Refusing a party Jim and his brother Mike tried to throw in New York, he celebrated in Canandaigua with a series of parties and visits from family. In fact, he has more of a social life than many of us do, going out to parties and staying up past midnight like a teenager! His only setback was, we’re hoping – a minor albeit painful one: a pinch spinal nerve, something they are treating with a series of cortisone injections that have helped enormously. Besides the discomfort, this condition caused him to cancel a planned Thanksgiving trip with his friend Len Brondum, but we are hoping he will be back to 100% by Christmas. Mihiel also had cataract surgery this year and was delighted with the results. Downside: he realized that his computer screen was dirty! Upside: it looks like he can have the eyeglasses restriction removed from his driver’s license.
Otherwise, all is happy and well in the family.
We closed last year’s holiday letter with a note that we were headed to Galveston to spend part of the Christmas – New Year’s holiday at a beach house with Mihiel, Drew, Andrea, and Will. We did just that and had a fine time eating, drinking, and walking on the beach. In March, Mary and Jim traveled to Arizona where we spent a few days with Jay and Mary Rodgers riding horses and such at the Kay El Bar Ranch. Then in May, we headed to Mexico with our friends Susan Bischoff and Jim Barlow, where we spent several days in Morelia, relaxing and taking in the sights and the good food. In June, we joined Mary’s brother and sister-in-law Ken and Linda McEnery in Memphis, taking in the music on Beale St., touring the Gibson guitar factory, paddleboating down the Mississippi, and, of course, spending some time with Elvis at Graceland. In the summer, we spent a week out in New Mexico, in part with our friends Kathy and Randy Matthews in Santa Fe, but also spending a couple of days on our own further north at the scenic and relaxing Rancho de San Juan. In August we ventured to Las Vegas, in part to hit the Strip with our friends Susan and Jim but mainly to meet Andrea’s family, who live just west of the city, and to help scout out wedding venues. After surviving the threat of Hurricane Rita in September, we traveled with friends Melissa and Steve Kean to London to spend a week in a flat in Knightsbridge that we “won” in a Friends of Fondren Library fundraising auction. There we got to meet up with Jim’s brother and sister-in-law Mike and Kathryn and take in the sights. For Thanksgiving, we teamed up as usual with Ken and Linda for a grand time at Amelia Island – definitely worth the trip!
Mary had another good year as Dean of Continuing Studies at Rice University. Two highlights were the successful launching of a Master of Liberal Studies program – the first degree program her school has had – and the receipt of a major gift to her school from two local friends and benefactors, Susanne and Melbourne Glasscock. We expect Mary’s school to be renamed the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies sometime in the coming year.
Jim has been busy with his usual teaching and research activities, peppered by many trips to speak at conferences and such. His main news is that he took over early this year as president of the Foundation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. FABBS is headquartered in Washington, DC and is committed to educational programs to advance scientific disciplines in cognitive sciences and neuroscience. As a result, Jim now travels to DC regularly, with the side benefit that he gets to see Will on each visit.
We will close this year, and celebrate Christmas and New Years, with a trip to New York City and Ridgefield, Connecticut where we will join Will and Drew, checking out Drew’s new (albeit temporary) home and job. We’ll also meet up there with our friend Linda DeJure (from our Paris trip two Christmases ago.) Two days later we will travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to spend several days with Mel and Susie Glasscock, and some other couples, overlooking the Pacific at a villa Mel and Susie won in the same auction.
We hope that you have enjoyed a healthy, rewarding 2005 and we wish you the best for 2006.
Mary McIntire & Jim Pomerantz (firstname.lastname@example.org)